The Visit

Feb. 18th, 2010 12:31 pm
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[personal profile] cheslav_oleksei
Later, Cheslav would always remember it was winter when Avdotia Isaeva died.

Cheslav Oleksei remembered the Siege as an eternal winter, even though he knew intellectually that the seasons must have changed during those two and a half years. Yet when he caressed the place in his memories that knew starvation and fear and aching desperation, squatting in bombed-out buildings and eating stringy meat nearly raw, taking his knife to the veins of a man for the first time and finding fleeting solace in the slow grind of hard flesh, that place, those memories, were grey and tinged with frost.

Now, there was real snow on the ground in front of the Isaev estate.

The estate stood as always, imposing and elegant, a tall historic townhouse facing the wide road. The snow around the curb been recently plowed but was blackened with mud from the tires of many recent visitors, like the first shadow of tarnish on silver.

Cheslav drove himself, and parked his white Moskvitch in front, instead of going around to the back like usual.

The night air felt crisp, and very heavy.

His breath streamed between his lips like smoke. Seeing it made him want for a cigarette.

There were few things Cheslav Oleksei denied himself, but he denied himself a cigarette now. Instead, his hand went absently to his pocket, and felt the weight of the bottle within.

Cheslav wore a black wool coat that spanned his broad shoulders and swirled around his boots as he walked up to the townhouse's front door. Above him, most windows were darkened save for a couple that were faintly backlit with the softest of warm glows.

No other signs of life.

He allowed it was possible that no one was home.

His heavy brow knit low over his dark eyes.

Cheslav had even features, for the most part, a straight Greek nose and squared-off chin, and a long, angular jaw. It was the thick brow that glided his face with a touch of menace, and betrayed his coarse birth.

Rather, both his jaw and his massive form, tall and thick with muscle like the butcher he'd once been, and Cheslav knew it mattered as much where you'd been as where you were.

He reached for the wrought iron knocker, but then changed his mind and rang the bell, instead.

Date: 2010-02-21 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cheslav smiled, slowly but warmly.

"Lieutenant Liadov. It's good to finally meet you."

He saw now that there had been a Lieutenant Liadov-sized gap in his understanding of the family politic.

If the Lieutenant had been younger, still a boy instead of a man, Cheslav would have had the impulse to tousle his thick, springy hair with rough affection. Instead he squeezed Liadov on the shoulder briefly, once more.

His gaze shifted toward the kitchen.

"They're not so different, Ilarion and Aleksandr. Neither are you and I, I think."

Outward appearance, age and education aside.

His eyes returned to Liadov's, just for a moment, then he stepped forward, into the kitchen, and let Liadov walk behind him.

It was warmer inside, more lived-in than what he'd glimpsed of the rest of the house. Heat and humidity from the samovar on the stove lingered. He saw teacups on the counter and used dishes neatly stacked by the sink, waiting for a domestic to clean them.

And here was Ilarion Isaev.

Like the young lieutenant, Ilarion wore his uniform neatly tucked and pressed. His hair was cropped smoothly against his skull, like well-manicured snow, but in spite of his neat appearance, there was a understated weariness in the way he held himself, his shoulders too straight under his lapels.

"Ilarion Aleksandrovich," Cheslav said.

He smiled, very slightly, more a relaxing of his features than anything, and crossed his hands casually in front of him.

"I'm here for your father."


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February 2010

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